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Unifying incoming information from social media channels into a single repository of data can enable organizations to achieve better business results through analytics.
Organizations continue to struggle with social media, and many are still trying to master social media marketing. At the same time, nearly every organization recognizes that social media is an area where they must succeed.
In some cases, the challenge is developing your brand and content for a social media application. In other cases, it's developing the right kind of "voice." In still other cases, organizations fail to effectively manage their content across myriad social media channels.
This is where consistency and management of content across all social media channels really helps—and where the ability to unify all incoming information from every social media channel into a single repository of data can make a big difference.
"The evolution of mobile technology and also many different types of social media channels has generated tens of hundreds of different social media platforms, and for every platform you use, you have to maintain your own unique user ID," said Ashkan Kouchak, founder of Spectrums, which provides unifying user IDs that enable companies and individuals to place all their social media channels under a single ID.
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Spectrums provides a cloud-based system that unifies all incoming social media content from every channel into what the company refers to as a single user ID (SID) number.
"This works for companies, so instead of having to list your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Skype IDs on a display, you only have to give customers and partners your SID number, which connects and unifies all of these channels automatically," Kouchak said.
The technology simplifies company contact for customers and partners—and it simplifies media channel management.
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Companies and individuals who use the technology, control their own privacy and governance because they determine who can access what information on every social media channel.
"You don't have to store any private information or individual credentials under your SID number, meaning you can either just use the number to unify all channels under that number or you can selectively determine the content you want to bring into the data repository from each channel," Kouchak said.
Understandably, there are issues with this technology for companies, as there are with any new technology innovation. First and foremost is privacy. How do you ensure that the proper controls are in place so that you import only the media content you should import?
In addition, the data repository is on a public cloud. In this case, that cloud is Amazon AWS, which can customize security to the levels you want—but companies are still are hesitant about it, since it's a public cloud.
"We recognize that there are these concerns, but we also see areas of the world where being able to consolidate all social media channels under a single number is invaluable," Kouchak said.
One place where this is particularly important is the Middle East, where social network and media engagement are extremely robust, and people value having a unique number like an SID. "This is an area of the world where someone might pay four or five million dollars to have a certain cellphone number," Kouchak said.
The SID concept is intriguing. It is certainly worth talking about in corporate marketing departments. Given this, how can you best evaluate the idea of using a unifying ID number for all your social media channels?
1. Know what you want to get out of a social media unification strategy
Do you plan to use analytics on the social media content you import? Do you have enough governance flexibility to mine your acquired social media data for consumer buying and product preferences?
2. Align the unification of social media channels in marketing with your big data strategy
There is little value in importing social media data into a central data repository if you're not planning to do anything with it. Operationally, technologically, and strategically, the big data IT team and marketing need to be working together so that best business results are achieved though analytics.
3. Measure your results
If you go through the process of unifying your company's media content, what business processes and results do you expect to improve? Do you think the company will close more sales and develop additional revenue streams? Will marketing content and branding be more smoothly delivered, with improved sales lead generation? Lead generation and the ability to close sales are measurable. It makes sense to establish "before" and "after" metrics to see if you are meeting your goals by improving your ability to unify and analyze social media.
4. Develop a roadmap
Where do you want to go next, once you unify your social media channels for marketing? Do you want to mine social media content for product comments and ideas from customers that can be incorporated into your next-generation products? Or learn about how satisfied customers are with your company?
Fine-tuning your strategies
Harnessing social media is still a developmental area for most companies. The good news is that technologies are emerging that can address the challenges of social media content management that organizations have struggled with. Now is the time for companies to revisit their social media strategies so they can take them to the next level.